Seasons are a funny and often misunderstood thing, at least as far as breweries are concerned. Winter, for example, starts in December, but that doesn't stop Deschutes from kicking out its Jubelale in mid-September. (By next year we might see it in August.) This January they'll be releasing their Red Chair, which for many is, or was, more of a late-winter/early-spring ale. And yes, in years past it used to hit shelves toward the end of February.
Point is, it's still winter -- it has barely started -- and there are still plenty of current seasonals to enjoy.
Like 21st Amendment's Fireside Chat.
This is one ale we kind of overlook every year, and that's a little bit sad. The Fireside Chat almost literally pushes you down to the ground and tosses winter all over you. And that is not an uncomfortable feeling.
It looks all Christmas-y too, all nutty brown with an inviting head setting the scene for a spicy nose. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and dried fruit dominates in a way that screams Christmas.
The flavor, too, is dominated by those spices, with a good malty backbone. At 45 IBUs it is not a hoppy beer, which is a good thing as far as winter seasonals go. Save the hops for other seasons.
Now granted, what you taste is what you get here. Fireside Chat has a strong flavor, but you probably won't pick up on too many subtleties beneath what first hits you. I'm OK with that. That's fine as far as a winter seasonal goes. It doesn't need to be too complex; just comforting like a warm sweater.
Pick up a six pack while it still is winter. This one can be enjoyed for quite a while longer.